Bioactive Compounds of Tomatoes as Health Promoters
- Pp. 48-91 (44)Jose Pinela, M. Beatriz P. P Oliveira and Isabel C.F.R. Ferreira
Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) is one of the most consumed vegetables in the world and probably the most preferred garden crop. It is a key component of the Mediterranean diet, commonly associated with a reduced risk of chronic degenerative diseases. Currently there are a large number of tomato cultivars with different morphological and sensorial characteristics and tomato-based products, being major sources of nourishment for the world’s population. Its consumption brings health benefits, linked with its high levels of bioactive ingredients. The main compounds are carotenoids such as β-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, and mostly lycopene, which is responsible for the red colour, vitamins in particular ascorbic acid and tocopherols, phenolic compounds including hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives and flavonoids, and lectins. The content of these compounds is variety dependent. Besides, unlike unripe tomatoes, which contain a high content of tomatine (glycoalkaloid) but no lycopene, ripe red tomatoes contain high amounts of lycopene and a lower quantity of glycoalkaloids. Current studies demonstrate the several benefits of these bioactive compounds, either isolated or in combined extracts, namely anticarcinogenic, cardioprotective and hepatoprotective effects among other health benefits, mainly due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The chemistry, bioavailability and bioactivity of these bioactive compounds will be discussed, as well as the main mechanisms of action against cancer and other bioactivities including antioxidant, antiinflammatory, cardiovascular and hepatoprotective effects in humans. Possible applications of tomato bioactive compounds in the industry will also be proposed.